Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Smite the white breasts which thee fed,
Stuff sharp thorns beneath the head
Of them thou shouldst have comforted.
For out of wo and out of crime
Draws the heart a lore sublime.'
And yet it seemeth not to me
That the high gods love tragedy,
For Saadi sat in the sun,
And thanks was his contrition,
For haircloth and for bloody whips
Had active hands and smiling lips,
And yet his runes he rightly read,
And to his folk his message sped.
Sunshine in his heart transferred
Lighted each transparent word.
And ell could honoring Persia learn
What Saadi wished to say;
For Saadi's nightly stars did burn
Brighter than Dschami's day.

Whispered the muse in Saadi's cot;
O gentle Saadi, listen not,
Tempted by thy praise of wit,
Or by thirst and appetite,
For the talents not thine own,
To sons of contradiction,
Never, son of eastern morning,
Follow falsehood, follow scorning,
Denounce who will, who will deny,
And pile the hills to scale the sky,
Let theist, atheist, pantheist,
Define and wrangle how they list,
Fierce conserver, fierce destroyer,
But thou joy-giver and enjoyer,
Unknowing war, unknowing crime,
Gentle Saadi, mind thy rhyme,
Heed not what the brawlers say,
Heed thou only Saadi's lay.

Let the great world bustle on
With war and trade, with camp and town;
A thousand men shall dig and eat;
At forge and furnace thousands sweat;
And thousands sail the purple sea;
And give or take the stroke of war;
Or crowd the market and bazaar;
Oft shall war end, and peace return,
And cities rise where cities burn,
Ere one man my hill shall climb,
Who can turn the golden rhyme;
Let them manage how they may,
Heed thou only Saadi's lay.
Seek the living among the dead,
Man in man is imprisoned,

Barefooted Dervish is not poor,
If fate unlock his bosom's door,
So that what his eye hath seen,
His tongue can paint as bright, as keen;
And what his tender heart hath felt,
With equal fire thy heart shall melt.
Now his memory is a den,
A sealed tomb from gods and men,
Whose rich secrets not transpire;
Speech should be like air and fire;
But to speak when he assays,
His voice is bestial and base;
Himself he heareth hiss or hoot,
And crimson shame him maketh mute;
But whom the muses smile upon
And touch with soft persuasion,
His words like a storm-wind can bring
Terror and Beauty on their wing,

In his every syllable

Lurketh nature veritable;

[blocks in formation]

And thus to Saadi said the Muse;
Eat thou the bread which men refuse;
Flee from the goods which from thee flee;
Seek nothing; Fortune seeketh thee.
Nor mount, nor dive; all good things keep
The midway of the eternal deep.
Wish not to fill the isles with eyes
To fetch thee birds of paradise;
On thine orchard's edge belong
All the brags of plume and song.;
Wise Ali's sunbright sayings pass
For proverbs in the market-place;
Through mountains bored by regal art,
Toil whistles as he drives his cart.
Nor scour the seas, nor sift mankind,
A poet or a friend to find,

Behold, he watches at the door,

Behold his shadow on the floor.
Open innumerable doors

The heaven where unveiled Allah pours,
The flood of truth, the flood of good,
The Seraph's and the Cherub's food,

Those doors are men; the Pariah hind
Admits thee to the perfect Mind.
Seek not beyond thy cottage wall
Redeemers that can yield thee all.
While thou sittest at thy door
On the desart's yellow floor,
Listening to the grayhaired crones,
Foolish gossips, ancient drones,
Saadi! see, they rise in stature
To the height of mighty Nature,
And the secret stands revealed,
Fraudulent Time in vain concealed,
That blessed gods in servile masks
Plied for thee thy household tasks.

THE GALLERY.

[We had many things to say in this Number concerning art and its works and its workmen, but an unlooked for amount of matter of foreign contribution has constrained us, were it only through courtesy, to exclude the home-made. But we will draw one paper out of our folio, at the risk of depriving it of some of its grace by detachment from its chapter, that our Journal may not go quite without homage to the laws of Fine Art; for " Art," as Dr. Waagen writes, "is an expression of the mind, whose peculiar character cannot be supplied by anything else."]

Ho, Amico! Stop a moment, and let me have a word or two with you. I was in Concord yesterday; and talking about pictures. W said we must have some account of the Gallery, and asked me to write it for him. But I knew myself too well to write with anything but the brush, and so they carried it by acclaim that you must do it for them.

Amico. Proh Jupiter! I do it for them! Why, my dear Pictor, I have been running away from pictures I know not how long, and they seem destined to be my bane. For my sins once upon a time I set up for a critic. I had done a great deal better to have written a book. Then I did not care whose glass was broken, and I went about decrying daubers, and preaching up art. Many were the aggrieved, many the ladies offended that their soft pictures were pronounced emphatically rather too soft; and as to the artists, it is only with the new generation that I begin to be upon speaking terms. And besides, what good did I ever do by it?

Pictor. Yes, but then you were in your youthful extravagance. "Aut hoc aut nihil" was your watchword; now more patience with mediocrity? Amico. My young friend, you call yourself a painter. Nay

you have

[ocr errors]

more, you delight to be called Artist. heart; If you accept mediocrity, you nought else.

Now lay this close to your shall have mediocrity, and

'the Gallery; shall we

Pictor. Here we are at the do go in?

Amico. As you will.

Pictor. Now look around you, Amico. Here are a hundred or two of pictures; not one of them that was painted without some thought. Each was a striving towards expression; each an attempt to embody the ideal. Now is it philosophical to throw them aside en masse? Nay, if you are a true critic, does not each demand of you, that you shall divine its law, and judge it thereby?

[ocr errors]

Amico. I must confess, not being an artist myself, I am not sure how far each picture is an attempt, or striving of the kind you name. But let me ask a few questions of you as to this process of creation. Here are two pictures of your own now, the " Neapolitan Girl" and the "Old Oak Tree." Which of these two is your favorite?

Pictor. The Girl is the last, and the last conquest is always the dearest; but before I had painted that, I loved the Old Oak better than any of my pictures. But then there is a reason for that. Two years ago, before I had fully determined to be a bonâ fide painter, I went into Berkshire with E-, who is now in Europe, to spend the College Vacation. Now besides being a poet, E- has of all persons I ever saw the most farsighted eye into nature, and I may truly say he opened my eyes. This huge pasture was our favorite resort. As you see in the picture, there is no fence in sight, so that it is as good as if there were none in the world. You see these bare hills covered with warm brown grass, and here and there with stunted bushes, on which the shadows skip so beautifully, - that bold ridge covered with pine trees, that stands out far beyond the rest of the range into the valley, and round whose base the river winds, and that fortunate old mill, whose position makes it as invaluable as a castle in the landscape. Well, I know not how it happened, but those were most happy days for us; each morning we would start with our sketch-books and our dinner, and make our way to this old, scathed, and leafless oak; and whatever point in the horizon attracted us, thither we went; and sometimes were gone for days, as occurred when we went to that blue mountain in the distance. I know not if it were the clear mountain air we breathed, or the sympathy and affection that bound us together, but I have never before or since experienced the serene happiness of those days. I have been ever since struggling with the world and life, and poor E, the gentle, the ten

[ocr errors]

-

der-hearted, has been cheated of the future upon which, like a spendthrift, he lived so prodigally. I suppose something of my sad feeling has crept into the picture.

Amico. Well; and now about the other picture? I shall be surprised if it has as long a story.

Pictor. I confess it has not. It was a head sketch from a sitter, because I thought it graceful, — and finished because I thought the sketch good. But don't you like it? Do you not think it a great improvement in my coloring?

Amico. Friend, I care not for your coloring, at least not now. When you painted the old oak, you were a man. The world opened before you in those days, as it should every day. Feeling as you did then, you could not but paint.

Pictor. But my good Amico! Would you have me walk upon stilts all the time? Or should I paint any better, because I live téte exaltée ?

Amico.

Were you upon stilts then?

Pictor. I should be an apostate to all my better feelings to say I was. But such states are involuntary. They are the gift of the gods.

Amico. Now, 0 my friend! you have touched the root of the matter. You want faith, without which was no great character ever built up, no great work achieved. And, Pictor, you may paint till you reach threescore and ten, and you may please yourself with the idea that you are forming a style, or adding to your knowledge of color, but unless you have faith, you shall not be saved. And now you may understand why I demur, as to our being called on to criticise every painting according to its law.

Pictor. But surely you do not contend that the painters, as a class, have been of that high and severe character you demand of us.

Amico. "The painters as a class" I do not speak of, but the artists, the men who created art. Most painters think they have done enough, when they have acquired all the age can teach them. To the Artist this is but the Alphabet wherewith he shall teach the age.

Pictor. But you demand that we should all do that which Nature permits only to her favorites.

Amico. Tell me now; did you ever notice how rich certain past eras have been in these "favorites," as you call them?

Pictor. Certainly; and the race, I often think, has degenerated.

Amico. Do you suppose this degeneracy is in the child, or the

man?

Pictor. Doubtless, if the child be the same that he was in the

« AnteriorContinua »